Real estate brokers in India work differently than they do back home. Anyone can become a broker - there are no classes or exams, no ethics or fiduciary duty to either seller or buyer. There is no listing service used by all brokers in an area so everyone has the same inventory to work with, along with their exclusive listings.Every person you meet has a brother, uncle or cousin who is a realtor, and when you deal with only one, all you see are the flats that he personally knows about.
I contacted my friends in Pune, talked to my office and asked for recommendation. Each gave me the number to the "only honest realtor in Pune". I contacted them all and visited several high rise flats. I had told each one that I was looking for a flat that would accept two dogs, was fully furnished, and preferably a gym and a pool. We wanted something close to the office that was also nearby a retail center. Most of the realtors told me, "oh, I just had one that was perfect for you, but this is what I have now". The flats were okay, nothing special. I concentrated by search in Wanowrie, a little farther away. We kept looking, and after seeing some decent flats and some horrible ones, the last one was something called a "row house", similar to a duplex back home. Designed by an architect in Singapore, it definitely has a Singaporean aesthetic to it. Badly in need of paint, the house had been empty for more than a year as the owner only wanted to lease it to vegetarians. The son had recently gotten involved and was determined to rent it out. We showed up just in time.
Realtors in India demand at lease a month's rent from both the renter and the seller, some two months each. Each year that you renew the lease the realtors come back again for the fee. If you negotiate your lease agreement for more than 11 months, they double their fee. The good thing is that you can negotiate this down. We settled on a two month's fee for a two year lease. The agent had wanted two months per year. The agent states that he handles all the moving in issues, getting the police clearance, arranging the cooking gas, etc. during the lease time frame. We'll see. This agent was pretty good, though. He had plenty of inventory to show me, and they most closely matched what I was looking for.
The place is paradise. There are three huge bedrooms plus servant quarters and features a beautiful landscaped yard. Perfect for the dogs, who will be arriving next week. The backyard has a heavily laden coconut palm, a pomegranate tree heave with fruit, a mango tree, banana trees and some kind of citrus. All that's missing is pineapples. Every house plant I ever had in the states, from colorful freesia and frangipani, to mother-in-law's tongue, poinsettia and spider plants, is planted in my backyard as hedges, shrubs, and small trees. The white marble outdoor patio is ample enough for a table and chairs. The kitchen is huge, but could use more storage space (we'll work that out soon). The living room has a double height ceiling keeping the space very cool, even in the heat of the day. The only other thing we need to do is buy a washing machine.
The last issue is getting the dogs down from Delhi. My partner is still at our house in Delhi and closing the place down. She's buying the dog crates to fit them and visiting the vets to get their "healthy to fly" certificates. Her round-trip ticket will cost 16,000 rupees, while the dogs' one-way flight will cost 10,000. The tickets are booked and they arrive next Saturday. The car is booked to receive them, so the family will finally be together again, the first time since early December. That's a very, very good thing. :-)
Front Door. We've already been locked out twice.
Backyard from the Driveway
Triple sliding doors to backyard
Looking down from the upstairs hallway to the double-height living room
Doorway to backyard from upstairs